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John Ashbery

John Ashbery

b. 1927

A native of Rochester, New York, John Ashbery (b. 1927) is the prolific author of twenty three volumes of poetry, plus fiction, plays and criticism. He is the recipient of numerous literary awards,...
Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

b. 1911 d. 1979

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) at the time of her death was respected as a "writer's writer" on account of her technical mastery and exemplary patience and dedication to her craft. Since then her...
Louise Bogan

Louise Bogan

b. 1897 d. 1970

Born in Maine in 1897, Louise Bogan was the daughter of a mill worker and a mentally and emotionally unstable mother. Her childhood was restless: as the Bogans moved from one New England town to the...
Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks

b. 1917 d. 2000

Gwendolyn Brooks grew up in Chicago in a poor yet stable and loving family. Her father was a janitor who had hoped to become a doctor; her mother a teacher and classically trained pianist. Brooks was...
Dan Burt

Dan Burt

b. 1942

Dan Burt's poems offer the reader a dual perspective on American culture, drawing on the poet's personal experience of being both an insider and an outsider. The son of Jewish immigrants, Burt grew...
Hayden Carruth

Hayden Carruth

b. 1921 d. 2008

Hayden Carruth was born in 1921, in Waterbury, Connecticut, and educated at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Chicago where he gained an MA. After serving in...
Amy Clampitt

Amy Clampitt

b. 1920 d. 1994

Amy Clampitt was born in Iowa in 1920 and grew up on the 300-acre farm owned by her Quaker grandparents in New Providence. She spent much of her childhood exploring the countryside which, coupled...
Billy Collins

Billy Collins

b. 1941

Billy Collins (b. 1941) is a genuinely popular poet whose books have sold over 200,000 copies since the appearance of his first collection, Pokerface, in 1977. Born in New York City he attended the...
E. E. Cummings

E. E. Cummings

b. 1894 d. 1962

E. E. Cummings (1894-1962) was born and brought up in Cambridge Massachusetts, and is remembered above all for his startling innovations in syntax and typography. His early experiments in poetry...
Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

b. 1830 d. 1886

Only seven of Emily Dickinson's poems were published in her lifetime; these were heavily edited. Many of the rest were found after her death, in little packets bound together to make small books....
Rita Dove

Rita Dove

b. 1952

Rita Dove (b. 1952) was encouraged by her parents to read widely from a young age and she explored all that the local library in Akron, Ohio, had to offer. Dove went on to study English at Miami...
W.E.B. DuBois

W. E. B. DuBois

b. 1868 d. 1963

Sociologist, civil rights campaigner, historian, Harvard graduate, anti-war activist, academic, essayist, novelist, communist and, of course, poet, W.E.B. DuBois was passionately committed to...
Jane Duran

Jane Duran

b. 1944

Jane Duran (b. 1944) is a writer whose work is often preoccupied with memory and exile. Born in Cuba, she grew up in the USA and Chile, the daughter of an American mother and a Spanish father who met...
T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot

b. 1888 d. 1965

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) as a poet and critic came to define the modernist movement and still dominates the literary landscape of the last century. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri to a prominent...
Ruth Fainlight

Ruth Fainlight

b. 1931

Ruth Fainlight (b. New York, 1931) is an award-winning poet and translator, whose collections, starting with Cages in 1966, have spanned five decades. Her 1976 collection Another Full Moon was...
Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché

b. 1950

Carolyn Forché was born in Detroit in 1950, her mother was a Czech-American journalist, her father a tool and die maker. Forché calls herself a 'junk-heap Catholic' - she is perpetually drawn to...
Robert Frost

Robert Frost

b. 1874 d. 1963

Robert Lee Frost, named after the Confederate general, was born in 1874 in California, nine years after the end of the Civil War. His father was an unsuccessful politician and a severe and humourless...
Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg

b. 1926 d. 1997

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) is cherished as the pivotal figure between the 50s Beat Generation and the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s. He was born in Newark, New Jersey the son of a high...
Linda Gregg

Linda Gregg

b. 1951

Linda Gregg [b. 1951], though born in New York, grew up in the woods of Marin County, California, the first of many landscapes that were to influence her work. She attended San Francisco State...
Thom Gunn

Thom Gunn

b. 1929 d. 2004

Thom Gunn (1929-2004) is a poet whose work thrives on contrast and contradiction: English tradition and American idiom; strict form and free verse; intellectual discipline and physical hedonism are...

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Enjoy new recordings of classic poems from the past read by contemporary poets

Strange Hells

Ivor Gurney

read by Glyn Maxwell

The Mock Turtle's...

Lewis Carroll

read by Kei Miller